Uganda, to me, is even more spectacular than Rwanda with similar, garden like scape. We wound our way up to Bwindi Backpackers lodge which borders the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, gorilla country, and rumoured to be frequented by our ancestors (or maybe just mine) its very misty up here. The dirt road up for the 36k was very rough at times but very high, mountainous and pretty, well worth the drive. As I sit here writing this in the front seat, ten or so children just watching and being curious surround me. I note that they are gradually getting closer and closer.
The manager of the lodge is a young Ugandan by the name of Junior and he told us that he was a soccer player of note and was about to have a game just down the road, a short distance and would you like to come. Of course we would. A short distance in Uganda is different to ours. About two kilometres on and down a long, steep ravine we finally made it to the football field, a flat space at the bottom of the valley. On the way, however, we saw how friendly every one we passed was, with lots of hello’s and those smiles.
As usual we are the only guests here. There is no power here so it’s a candle lit dinner and warm beer. They are actually killing us with kindness, especially lighting the donkey (a boiler) for our shower and having the school children perform for us.
5th February 2014 We took a tour of a Pygmy (Batwah) village starting at about 9am, just Judy, our guide Richard, and myself. The path took us through some extremely steep and stunning terrain. As we walked and approached the Impenetrable forest, gorilla land, a familiar sound alerted me to an incoming phone call to Richard. Yes mobile reception is very good in the darkest of Africa in Uganda. When the nearby national park was established the Batwa were evicted from their natural habitat and resettled close to the park in huts provided by the government, the reasoning being was that they would continue to hunt in the park unless removed, depleting the animals.
When we reached the village they were most welcoming and entertained us with several dances. I must say that they were taller than expected especially as I had seen what I thought was a true pygmy back at The Volcanoes. This person was about three feet tall and in perfect symmetry, not a dwarf. I think the people we saw were forest people. Amazing, though, how they can make a 20L plastic jerry can sound like an African drum.
The elderly woman of the village and chief dance meister took a look at the photo that I had just taken of her and declared that she looked like a gorilla.
Interestingly there were a couple of teenage males in the village who seemed too cool for school, sucking on a vodka sachet and smoking tailor made’s. Richard told me they also smoked the other. They were casual but when the dancing started they got up with gusto and stomped their gumboots down.
We returned, exhausted at 3.30pm but stopped at the community hotel, a mud hut where Richard introduced us to the non alcoholic version of sorghum juice, Bushera, which tasted like lemon flavoured yoghurt and looked like granular coco, not all that bad, but I could only drink a quarter of a huge mug. Richard told me he could drink five or six of these in quick succession and finished off what I couldn’t.
Diving back down the mountain we sustained some collateral damage as I tried to negotiate my way around a truck stopped on a mountain bend. A fellow LandCruiser had just successfully negotiated it (a ute) however as I passed the back of the car slid down and #$&^%*<. Judy thought I was remarkably composed.
6th February 2014 Again we have ended up at a wonderful place, not having travelled too many K’s. The Bunyonyi Overland Resort by Lake Bunyonyi and, we are waterfront again.
The sun peeped out as we had a mid afternoon aperitif and Judy decided to do the washing while I blogged. The wind picked up and blew the washing down, a precursor of the wet season to come at the end of the month.
Absolutely pouring down now.
7th February 2014 Uganda has reverted to scenery similar to Tanzania and we have ended up at the Igongo Cultural Centre near Mbarara being the only customers bar two African bizzo types. This is a big complex with a fifty-room hotel almost built. We are camped amongst the building activity and at 7.30pm it is still full of construction workers. It opens in ten days to great fanfare to which we were invited. Unfortunately we leave tomorrow.
We awoke to the complex being overrun with police and army. The manager proudly took me on a tour of the hotel
and later, on the radio, we heard that the opening of the complex was indeed a celebrity event with government ministers to attend. Alas without our presence.
8th February 2014 We reached the Equator at about 11am, the temperature was 26C, before arriving in Kampala.
Uganda has fully reverted to Tanzania with roads that range from superhighways to arterial roads with potholes a foot deep, no exaggeration, and, the same crazy driving.
Kampala has also mimicked Dar Es Salam with unbelievable traffic. Whilst stuck in one of the traffic jams I took a couple of photos of the pandemonium and before too long two women police came up and asked if I had been taking their photo. I pleaded ignorance and they let me pass, perhaps it is a no no.
Crossed the Victoria (White) Nile in the late afternoon and are now camped close to it.